Hello friendly faces! It’s that time of the week, time for CNSMoms’ Meet a Mom spotlight brought to you in part by Mary Gifford of Gifford Law*. This week’s mama spotlight is the lovely farmtown Iowa raised, now Wilmette mama of three wee cuties, former globe trotting marketing exec and current real estate guru, Kelli Gould!
Hi Kelli! Please introduce yourself. Where are you from originally? What city do you live in now?
Hi! My name is Kelli Gould. I’m a mom of three little ones: Hadley (4), Harper (3), and Cory (16 months).
I grew up in a small town in Iowa. If you’ve heard of The Bridges of Madison County, that’s my home turf! I then lived in Chicago for 10 years, and we’ve been in Wilmette for four years. I always say the North Shore is utopian! There’s just nothing more you could ask for in a community and its people. The number of neighbors that reached out to us when we moved in is something I’ll never forget.
What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
People are usually surprised to find out I grew up on a farm. I guess I don’t exude a vibe of hay bales and cattle! Now my happy place is anywhere I can see a mountain. My husband and I fell in love and got married in Jackson Hole, WY, and we named our son (Corbet) after a cabin at the top of the ski mountain there.
Please introduce your real estate business. When did you begin, and what ultimately brought you into the field of real estate?
I’m one of the lucky ones who can say I have my dream job! I’m a real estate agent for clients in the North Shore and the northern part of the city – areas I know and love.
Before real estate, I was in marketing for 15 years, most recently at Boston Consulting Group. At BCG I had the great joy of meeting the smartest people I’ve ever known and traveling the globe. But marketing was never my passion. I knew someday I’d either open a bakery or go into real estate…and I’m just not willing to wake up before the sun as bakers do! When the housing market skyrocketed and my personal life demanded more flexibility with my working hours, I heard the universe telling me that this is the time to take the leap. What I didn’t realize is how much my marketing experience is applicable to real estate, especially when publicizing my clients’ properties. I believe there’s no better pre-real estate career than marketing!
When I changed careers, I was shocked by how many people responded with, “I’ve always thought about going into real estate.” I had no idea how many people shared this passion!
What’s most rewarding about this endeavor?
I would do this job for free. Nearly every moment of it is rewarding, but the very best part is when a client falls in love with a home, and then their offer is accepted (that’s been especially rewarding in this heated market!). A close second is when a friend refers me to someone they know. Often those friends haven’t even worked with me on a real estate transaction, but they’ve worked with me in my past career or on things in the community, so they know and trust me as a professional. For someone to put that trust in me is invaluable.
Who are your influencers and/or mentors that have helped you get to where you are today and/or continue to inspire you?
Every day I think about people I worked with in my past and current careers. I try to carry the best of them with me as a North Star for my own actions.
Early in my career I encountered some colleagues and leaders, especially women, unfortunately, that weren’t always great about lifting up others. I remember when someone I looked up to pulled me aside after a meeting and told me I should try to smile more when I’m listening to presentations from colleagues. The feedback struck me as fraught with gender overtones and I wondered if she would have said that to a man. I believe people have good intentions, but we as women still have work to do to bring our biases to the forefront so we can change the landscape for our kids.
At BCG I found a culture of kindness and respect at every level of the organization. That was the thing I was most scared to walk away from when I changed careers, especially knowing real estate is highly competitive. But, since then, I’ve been deeply fortunate to get to know several real estate mentors and counterparts who showed me you can be kind and highly successful in this business.
There is enough success to go around, so let’s support our fellow businesswomen!
What advice can you give other mamas out there who are looking to start a new business in the current climate?
There will never be a perfect time to take a risk. Many people told me that doing real estate while your kids are little is really tough, but I couldn’t bear the thought of waiting 5 more years to do what I loved. Remember that nothing in un-doable. Give it your all, and if it doesn’t work out (but it probably will!), you will figure out your next step from there.
What are the 2 most common questions that people reach out to ask you? Please also provide those answers.
- Is the market still crazy? I think “strange” is a better term now. If a North Shore house is in excellent condition and priced right, it will fly off the market. But other great homes sit for a month or more…and then might still get multiple offers, or they might need to go through a price reduction. There are so many abnormal dynamics happening right now that predictability has gone out the window. Pricing is more important than ever. The days of pricing houses egregiously high are gone.
- You have three kids under 5? How do you survive and have a career?? The honest answer is that I have an amazing nanny, an extremely supportive husband, and a great therapist! It’s really hard to have so many demands on one’s time and headspace, as anyone who has young kids can understand (especially during COVID!). I am learning to ask for help, suppress my perfectionism, and be kind to myself.
What’s on the horizon for you personally AND your business?
Personally, I CAN’T WAIT to start traveling again. Having a newborn during COVID kept us close to home for a long time – which had its pros and cons (Stay at home in my sweats for my whole pregnancy? Deal!). But the mountains and sunshine are calling, and I can’t wait to get back on a plane!
Professionally, the spring real estate market will be in full swing in a matter of weeks. That means I up my coffee intake dramatically as I sprint through the next several months!
How can we connect with you for more information?
If you’re one of those people who peruse Zillow just for fun, then please follow my Instagram or Facebook! I promise to deliver lots of gorgeous house photos and insider tips on the real estate market. You can also call or email me with any questions or to set up a meeting: [email protected] or 773-230-5579. One of the things my friends and clients are loving right now is an updated pricing analysis for their home. I love seeing their reaction to their higher property values! Don’t hesitate to reach out for one, on me!
About Our Meet a Mom Sponsor
A very heartfelt thank you to CNSMoms’ Meet a Mom sponsor, Lake Forest mom of three and owner of Gifford Law, a solo Estate Planning Firm (wills and trusts). Mary, we appreciate your support of local moms in our North Shore communities! Learn more about Mary by visiting her Meet a Mom spotlight here!